NOV 18, 2016 7:47 AM PST

Symbiosis: Mutualism, Commensalism, and Parasitism


Symbiotic relationships are interactions between species that can benefit either both or one of the species. There are three types of symbiosis: mutualism, where both species are benefited; commensalism, where one species benefits and the other is not harmed or helped; and parasitism, where one species benefits and the other is harmed.

One example of parasitism is ticks. Ticks feed off the blood of humans and animals, thus obtaining the nutrients to survive. However, not only are humans and animals freely donating their blood, but they also are often affected by diseases that the ticks spread.

An example of mutualism exists in the interactions between birds and cows: the birds eat the ticks that are feeding on the cows, thus cleaning the cows of an unwanted visitor whilst at the same time receiving nutrients.

Commensalism also is common is the natural world. One example of this could be a seed hitchhiking a ride on your shirt. The seed therefore is able to extend its dispersal zone, but (so long as your shirt doesn't tear!) you are not impacted by the seed's existence.

What other symbiotic relationships can you think of?
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 13, 2020
Neuroscience
Can COVID-19 Be Diagnosed by Vocal Patterns?
JUL 13, 2020
Can COVID-19 Be Diagnosed by Vocal Patterns?
Researchers from the Lincoln Laboratory have found early evidence that subtle changes in peoples' voices may indicat ...
JUL 14, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Thermoluminescence Dating: How Heating Ancient Pots Can Help Determining Their Age
JUL 14, 2020
Thermoluminescence Dating: How Heating Ancient Pots Can Help Determining Their Age
Radiometric dating is an effective method for determining the age of the material, whether a mineral or a piece of organ ...
AUG 14, 2020
Plants & Animals
Tracking the Iconic American Bison
AUG 14, 2020
Tracking the Iconic American Bison
The Great Plains of Montana are home to one of the United States' largest land restoration projects, known as the Am ...
SEP 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
Saving Myanmar's Critically Endangered Turtles
SEP 10, 2020
Saving Myanmar's Critically Endangered Turtles
New images of hatchling Burmese roofed turtles have renewed hope to save this critically endangered species. Late last m ...
OCT 02, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
A New Way of Building Houses: 3-D Printing with Clay
OCT 02, 2020
A New Way of Building Houses: 3-D Printing with Clay
Our ancestors had a long history of building dwelling structures using clay and plant-based fibrous materials. Even thes ...
OCT 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth-Sized Rogue Planet Found Drifting Through Our Galaxy
OCT 07, 2020
Earth-Sized Rogue Planet Found Drifting Through Our Galaxy
A team of astronomers has found a lone planet the size of Earth drifting through the Milky Way. Known as a ‘rogue ...
Loading Comments...